WATCH | Wealth check: PH Senate remains a gov’t institution of multi-millionaires and lately of billionaires

May 18, 2017 - 3:12 PM
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Philstar file photos of senators Cynthia Villar, Manny Pacquiao, and Ralph Recto

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate continues to be a government institution of millionaire public servants and lately billionaire lawmakers mostly from political families in a country where the average annual income of a Filipino family is less than P300, 000.

Copies of Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth of senators show that in 2016, the Upper House had two billionaire and 22 multi-millionaire members.

Sen. Cynthia Villar, wife of former senator and real estate magnate Manuel Villar and mother of former Las Piñas representative and current Department of Public Works and Highways chief Mark Villar, topped the list with total declared net worth of P3.606 billion, followed by world boxing champ Sen. Manny Pacquiao with P3.072 billion.

Compared to the earnings of ordinary Pinoys, Villar’s declared wealth last year was about 13,500 times bigger than the average yearly income of a Filipino family with five members worth P267,000 and was over 69,000 times bigger than a family’s average annual savings of P52,000, based on government data.

Meanwhile, Pacquiao’s 2016 net worth was about 11,500 times more than a Filipino family’s yearly average income and over 59,000 times larger than a family’s average yearly savings.

Ralph Recto, who comes from a political family and the husband of Batangas representative and veteran actress Vilma Santos, is the third wealthiest senator with a declared net worth of P522.61 million, which was almost 2,000 bigger than a Filipino family’s total income and 10,000 more than a family’s average annual savings.

Above P100 million group

Next to Recto are senators Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara and Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, who also come from political families and who each had a declared net worth of over P100 million.

Angara declared a net worth of P123.95 million, while Zubiri’s total wealth stood at P121.769 million.

Next are seven lawmakers, who likewise mostly come from political families and whose net worths were less than P100 million but above P50 million.

They are senators Sherwin Gatchalian (P92.142 million); Grace Poe (P88.481 million); Franklin Drilon (P82.483 million); Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito (P79,130 million); Richard Gordon (P66.929 million); Vicente “Tito” Sotto (P63.800 million); and Nancy Binay (P60.483 million).

They are followed by three senators whose net worths were between P40 million and P30 million.

They are Loren Legarda (40.911 million); Panfilo Lacson (P38.704 million); and Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV (P33.861 million.

Legarda was a longtime broadcast journalist before she became a politician. She is the former wife of longtime Batangas governor Jose Antonio “Tony” Leviste. Lacson was a longtime ranking police official before he became senator, while Aquino belongs to the Aquino-Cojuangco political clan.

Below P25 million group

The next batch is composed of senators whose 2016 net worths were below P25 million but above P20 million.

They are Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who was recently appointed chief of the Department of Foreign Affairs (P24.132 million); Joel Villanueva (P21.520 million); and Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan (P21.280 million).

Alan also belongs to a political family. His late father Rene Cayetano was a senator. His sister Pia is currently Taguig-Pateros representative, his wife, Lani Cayetano, is Taguig mayor, his brother Lino Cayetano is former Taguig representative, and his other brother, Rene Carl is former Muntinlupa City councilor.

Villanueva, former Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) party-list representative and chief of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, is the son of defeated presidential candidate Eddie Villanueva, founder of Jesus is Lord Movement.

Joel is the brother-in-law of Cibac representative Sherwin Tugna, whose wife, Joni Villanueva-Tugna, is currently the mayor of Bocaue, Bulacan.

Honasan was a longtime military official before he became senator. He was a defeated vice presidential candidate in the 2016 elections.

Next are two senators whose net worths were below P20 million but above P15 million – Senate president Aquilino Martin “Koko” Pimentel III with P17.734 million and Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros with P16.334 million.

Pimentel is the son of former senator Nene Pimentel, who was also president of the Upper House from 2000 to 2001 and former Cagayan de Oro City mayor.

Hontiveros, former Akbayan party-list representative, belongs to a haciendero clan in Capiz province. Her grandfather, Jose Hontiveros, was a senator in the 1920s.

Less than P10 million group

The last four senators declared net worths less than P10 million but above P5 million.

They are Francis Pancratius “Kiko” Pangilinan (P9.288 million), Leila de Lima (P6.618 million), Francis “Chiz” Escudero (P6.601 million), and Antonio Trillanes IV (P6.507 million).

Pangilinan is the husband of veteran actress-singer Sharon Cuneta; De Lima is former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights and chief of the Department of Justice.

Escudero, husband of actress Heart Evangelista, lost in the 2016 vice presidential polls. He belongs to a political family. He is the son of Salvador “Sonny” Escudero, who was food and agriculture chief during the Marcos and Ramos administrations and Sorsogon representative until his death in 2012.

Chiz’s mother, Evelina Guevara-Escudero is currently the representative of the First District of Sorsogon.

Trillanes was a Navy officer before he became senator.

Click and watch the video report of News5’s Mae Ann Baños below: